Summer Sounds is a series of free concerts held in public places around the city of Hobsons Bay. This afternoon sees an outdoor concert with three bands performing on the banks of Laverton Creek. First up are family-friendly act the Mudcakes, who play roots-rock aimed at discerning kids and their parents. Following is the Newport Gypsy Djangos playing jazz standards with a distinctly gypsy feel, and then it's the wall of sound that is Jana Garjana Dhol Pathak Indian drum band. Summer Sounds is held at McCormack Park and runs from 4pm to 7pm. Bring a rug and a picnic. This series includes free concerts at Commonwealth Reserve in Williamstown on Sat 20 Jan. On Sat 10 Feb at Logan Reserve, Altona and a week later on Sat 17 Feb at Altona Meadows Skate Park. hobsonsbay.vic.gov.au
Woods Street Art Space
This former post office became vacant in 2010 and was a constant target for vandalism. Inspired by the Renew Newcastle programme that turned empty real estate into social projects, the old P.O. became Wood Street Art Space. It offers a diverse range of free and low-cost workshops and programs. The regular Little Big Art kids' sessions draw up to 100 people, while you can come and watch professional Polynesian dance groups teach, rehearse and train here. 44 Woods Street; (03) 9932 1000; hobsonsbay.vic.gov.au
Frank Scomazzon and his son Daniel were raising pigs and cattle on their farm near Ballan when Frank, a former butcher, became dismayed at the quality of meat being sold in supermarkets and butcher shops. He and his son opened their own shop in Laverton to sell their free-range beef and pork from their farm, and lamb from a neighbour's farm. The pork from their Berkshire herd of pigs is exceptionally flavoursome with a rich layer of sweet fat covering the cuts. The dry-aged beef is also very good, especially the rib-eye steaks. They also stock old-fashioned offal such as tripe, brains and back fat for making sausages. But the best part is the price. Paddock to Table, hidden in the back of a carpark at the rear of the IGA, is about 20 per cent cheaper than its inner-city competitors, depending on the cut. When we visited, a chef from Rowville had driven 50 kilometres to pick up his weekly shopping for home. "The meat is the best," he says. Paddock to Table; Shop 1/6 Neville Avenue; Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 8am-4pm; (03) 9369 8220
Kate and Dale Bayliss moved to Laverton to do up a house. In the process they took over the lease of what was a freight company office and turned it into a cafe. Favor & Grace is a fun cafe opposite the train station where everything is made in-house in the open kitchen, from the zesty gravlax to the sweet to the dense muffins. Come here for the coffee, made with Industry Beans, the gravlax, served with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella for a twist on a caprese salad, and the chicken burger – the fillet crumbed in corn flakes, rice bubbles and fried shallots. 87 Railway Avenue; Tue-Fri 6.30am-3pm, Sat-Sun 8am-3pm; favorandgrace.com.au
At Laverton station is a sculpture created from two great double ended pod-shaped orbs of steel and reinforced polyester resin that wrap around each other. Made by Victorian sculptor Grant Finck, the work has become a popular icon for those making the daily commute. The freight line forms the backdrop, so often you'll find great kilometre-long trains shunting along then coming to an abrupt halt sending a wave of sound down the carriages like sonic dominoes.
Where Bladin Street crosses Laverton Creek at McCormack Park there are three bronze sculptures by Dean Bowen depicting sustainable transport, including a man walking, people taking a bus and people and others ride-sharing in a car. They're whimsical but accomplished works in themselves. From here a path suitable for riding and walking travels a further five kilometres along the estuary where it meets with the Hobson Bay Trail. By the shore of the lower reaches of the estuary you'll find water birds such as egrets and herons and waders on the sand flats.
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